Daryl Gibson is refusing to offer any excuses for the NSW Waratahs’ lacklustre start to the Super Rugby season as the first-year coach battles to stamp his style on the fallen champions.
Taking over from Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who guided the Tahs to their historic first title in 2014, was always going to be a tough act to follow.
Being without star playmaker Bernard Foley for the opening month – which featured testing match-ups with competition heavyweights the Brumbies and defending champion Highlanders – only added to the challenge.
Gibson, though, is neither looking for sympathy nor panicking as the Waratahs’ strive to improve their 2-2 start to 2016 with a much-needed victory over the Melbourne Rebels at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.
“I’m not too worried about injuries. Injuries are a part of the game. It’s just what happens,” the former All Black said on Friday.
“I have full faith in everyone that comes in and plays the way we want to play.
“For for us, we’re really searching for that performance that really gives us that momentum and gives us that confidence.
“We trained really well (this week). It’s really clicking for us there and it’s a matter of transferring that into a game.”
Cheika reinvigorated the Waratahs during his three-season stint at Moore Park, winning back fans by sticking rigid to an entertaining ball-in-hand game plan.
Former Wallaby turned TV analyst Rod Kafer this week claimed the Waratahs seemed to be caught in between the Cheika and Gibson eras.
But while admitting to trying to make a few “subtle” changes to the Waratahs’ approach, Gibson said there’d been no major overhauls, more an inability of the NSW pack – following the key departures of Jacques Potgieter and Sekope Kepu and injury to hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau – to provide the slick backline with quality possession from which to attack.
“The philosophy and the way we play the game, our identity, is very, very similar (to last year),” Gibson said .
“I’m a supporter of running rugby. It’s what I enjoy watching. It’s what I enjoy coaching.
“So part of that is obviously making all areas of the game really strong and at the moment we know that we need to improve our set piece and that platform.”